Combating Corona Virus with Mind Management!
- Shraddha C. Sankulkar
With the outbreak of the pandemic of Corona Virus, there has been an air of worry, anxiety & panic that is seen floating around. Generically speaking, the emotional centers in our brain are instrumental in 'alarming' us for our self-preservation, which is why its natural & healthy for the anxiety to seep in. Thus the brain gets alert and is suppose to logically think to fix the 'life threatening' situation. But if one cannot control the situation, then anxiety builds up to toxic levels and that's when our logical brain can get 'locked down'! A primitive mechanism, which we have inherited from our animal ancestors to combat fear is F-F-F mechanism i.e. Fight-Flight-Freeze mechanism. When one has the resources they fight the threat, when there are no resources to fight, then one prefers logically running away from the threat, which is called 'flight' or Escape mechanism. But when one neither 'fights' nor 'flights' then chances are he/she may by default get into the third approach called 'Freeze' which is the 'lock down' of the logical centers of the brain. Irrational decision can result when one's logical brain 'locks down' or becomes vulnerable to receive anything and everything from around without any filter. Opportunist and unethical people may take advantage of this condition and manipulate by feeding their mean logic. Thus its important to manage one's emotions and avoid a 'built up' and thereby trigger the 'Freeze' mechanism.
Talking in context of managing the Corona Virus situation, when the mass media started communicating about the outbreak of the epidemic in China and other parts of the world, people in India first went into a denial mode that the virus may not reach India. But over a month's time when the virus hit India, people started panicking and are living in fear since then.
The biggest threat most of the people have is that there is no vaccine developed to fight the virus. And this is creating the basic anxiety as we don't have control over the situation to combat the fear (fight). Neither we can run away (flight) to another planet. So what remains is by default most of them are slipping into the 'freeze' condition. We as a human race have become 'control seekers' and its natural for our race to want to control our situations because we are intelligent beings. But when we can't control our 'life threatening' situation (by either 'fight' or 'flight'), then we feel helpless, hopeless and curtailed on our spirit, which gradually leads one towards a spiral down of our positive spirit and if such a condition stays for long then it may lead to depression.
Therefore, while the experts in Microbiology & Pharmacy are searching solutions to develop a vaccine to physically combat this deadly virus, here's presenting you Psychology based solution to stay upbeat to take charge and first manage the threat of the virus.
1) Engage your mind in building your immunity rather than irrationally worrying about the Corona Virus: We don't have direct control on fixing the virus, but we certainly have total control on fixing our immunity system, incase if its weak and vulnerable. Thus by building a strong immune system, we can not just combat the Corona Virus but any other viruses & bacteria which may float around in near future. There is no better vaccination than a strong immune system and when one's mind knows that we are well equipped with a strong immune system, the anxiety of any virus attacking doesn't go overboard. Due to the forced home confinement these days, instead of getting paranoid, focus on things that are in your direct control and build your immunity instead, which indirectly will empower to you combat (fight) the virus, if at all you get infected. Reflect on the fact if the lifestyle you live is building a strong immune system for you or not? Its a research proved fact that eating balanced food, getting good amount of sleep (6-8 hours), exercising for 30-40 mins every day, cutting down on your stresses and consuming certain herbal supplements like Basil leaves (Tulsi leaves) can boost one's immunity. Immunity has to be build over a time period and has to be maintained by adopting a healthy lifestyle. As per the Harvard Medical Review, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, lack of sleep, diet fussiness & being over-weight can lead to lower immunity. If you have not been conscious of building a strong immunity then now is the time to start a new regime that should continue beyond, rather than fretting on hearing the death toll around due to Corona Virus.
2) Indulge in mindful activities: When you pursue activities which you find mindful, a chemical called 'endorphin' (feel good chemical) releases in our body, which indirectly strengthens your immune system. Everyone is wired differently so each one should pick up a healthy activity which makes them 'feel good'. Pursuing art, craft, watching stand up comedy, reading humorous book, watching a comedy movie, playing with a pet, dancing, exercising, playing board games, doing yoga, listening music (inspiring/upbeat) etc. The release of 'endorphins' when you are pursuing these 'mindful' activities makes you temporarily 'escape' into something good, instead of endlessly hearing media reports of the Corona Virus threats. When you are distressed the stress hormone 'cortisol' releases in the body, which, as per research findings, brings down your immune system! So the choice is yours. I suggest, after taking basic update of the virus situation daily, shut down the news and social media updates and 'fight' on things that are in your control (washing hands, sanitizing your home and surrounding, building immunity) and mindfully 'escape' in your 'feel good' activity.
3) Dealing with social disconnect: We humans are 'social' beings. Its a basic need for us humans to be connected with other human beings. Due to the virus threat, when social interaction at workplace, apartment complex, gym, clubs, family/friend get-togethers, weekend catching up, travelling around has got compromised, there can be feelings of sadness and mood off, as your daily social routine has got disrupted. When we feel safe and healthily bond with others, a chemical called 'oxytocin' is released in our brain, which is called the 'bonding chemical'. It releases maximum when we affectionately touch someone with a positive intention. Now that handshakes, hugs and kissing is curtailed, chances are we are missing the warmth of being around safe people. It is a research proved fact that social Isolation and loneliness can bring down the quality of life and eventually brings down the immunity of a person. Plus research has confirmed that the feeling of loneliness increases cardiac health risks equal to someone smoking 25 cigarettes a day! In these times of home confinement, make use of video calls, phone calls and stay in touch with your loved ones. A research confirms that just by hearing the voice of your 'comfort figure' brings down your stress levels and makes you calmer.
4) See the positive in every negative situation: Be grateful for what you have rather than feel sad of what you lack. Appreciate yourself and each other for taking efforts to work towards being a good citizen by abiding the norms as instructed by the authorities in your area. As per 'Logo Therapy' principles, visualize about life after this health havoc and spend your time in gathering resources or do the paper work that will lead to the execution of that plan later. That ways you will set a positive intention of going beyond the threat rather than spiral down into a catastrophic mindset.
Wishing all a healthy life and praying that may our MIND be the ultimate vaccine to first combat the fear and paranoia about the 'invisible', 'microscopic', 'terrorist' called Corona!
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